Former Defense Secretary Mark Esper says Trump wanted to ‘shoot’ protesting George Floyd’s death: book

Then-Secretary of Defense Mark Esper speaks as then-President Donald Trump listens during a daily White House coronavirus press briefing on April 1, 2020.Win McNamee/Getty Images

  • Trump wanted to “shoot” George Floyd protestors, per ex-defense secretary Mark Esper’s upcoming book.

  • “Can’t you just shoot them? Just shoot them in the legs or something?” he reportedly asked.

  • Esper recounted in his book the manner in which he had to talk Trump out of such an idea.

Former President Donald Trump wanted to “shoot” demonstrators protesting the May 2020 police killing of George Floyd, according to a forthcoming book written by former Secretary of Defense Mark Esper.

In June 2020, Trump became frustrated with the fury ignited by the death of Floyd while in custody of the Minneapolis police, Esper wrote in the book, “A Sacred Oath: Memoirs of a Secretary of Defense During Extraordinary Times,” which is slated for release on May 10.

Excerpts from the book regarding Trump’s plea to get a handle on the volatile situation were first reported by Axios on Monday.

“Can’t you just shoot them? Just shoot them in the legs or something?” Trump reportedly asked of the protestors, according to Esper.

At that particular moment, according to the excerpt, Esper said it felt “surreal, sitting in front of the Resolute desk, inside the Oval Office, with this idea weighing heavily in the air, and the president red faced and complaining loudly about the protests.” under way in Washington, DC”

He continued: “The good news — this wasn’t a difficult decision. The bad news — I had to figure out a way to walk Trump back without creating the mess I was trying to avoid.”

Other books released in the past year described the tightrope that Esper walked as he sought to control Trump’s impulses in using military force as a mark of strength on the domestic front.

In the forthcoming book, “This Will Not Pass: Trump, Biden, and the Battle for America’s Future,” New York Times reporters Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns recounted a testy June 2020 call featuring Trump and the nation’s governors, where the then-president encouraged the state leaders to respond aggressively to the Floyd protests.

Martin and Burns also described how Esper at the time pressed the governors to “dominate” the landscapes in their respective states.

“Savaging the racial-justice protestors around the country as ‘terrorists,’ Trump urged the governors to exact ‘retribution’ while demanding a swift return to public order,” they wrote in the book. “Esper, a buttoned-down West Point graduate and former Raytheon executive, advised the governors that they should seek to ‘dominate the battlespace’ in their states. In the Rose Garden later that day, Trump threatened to deploy federal troops if the governors did not move swiftly enough.”

Last year, the Washington Post reporters Carol D. Leonnig and Philip Rucker in their book, “I Alone Can Fix It: Donald J. Trump’s Catastrophic Final Year,” reported that Esper strongly pushed back against Trump’s desire to deploy active-duty troops to face the Floyd protestors.

Trump at the time mentioned the 1960s race riots to justify the use of troops to restore order, per the Leonnig and Rucker book.

“Mr. President, it doesn’t compare anywhere to the summer of sixty-eight,” Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley said. “It’s not even close.”

Esper then told Trump that the National Guard remained the best option to stop any future unrest, but the then- president proceeded to slam on the Resolute Desk and told his defense secretary that he wasn’t doing enough to solve the problem, according to the Leonnig and Rucker book.

In November 2020, shortly after the presidential election, Trump announced on Twitter that he had “terminated” Esper from his position. He was replaced by the former National Counterterrorism Center Director Christopher Miller.

A representative for Trump did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

This post has been updated.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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